The Mountain-Ear is located at:
20 E. Lakeview Drive, Unit 109 (inside Brightwood Music).
Our mailing address is PO Box 99, Nederland, CO 80466.

Phone: (303) 810-5409
Email: info@themountainear.com
Website: www.themtnear.com

Past and present: Parenting on the mountain



Above, left; Going to school in Nederland. Students stand in front of the Nederland School in 1898. (Photo courtesy of the Boulder Historical Society/Museum of Boulder). Above, right; A magical forest playground. The writer’s son on a glorious Nederland day. (Photo by Breanna Lambert) School in Nederland

Above, left; Going to school in Nederland. Students stand in front of the Nederland School in 1898. (Photo courtesy of the Boulder Historical Society/Museum of Boulder). Above, right; A magical forest playground. The writer’s son on a glorious Nederland day. (Photo by Breanna Lambert) School in Nederland

“When we hit the top of the pavement, the radio goes off, this is the time to look for a fox or a marmot or maybe a moose, and it’s like suddenly, our blood pressure just starts to drop. We’ve always felt that up here. All four of us.” Allen Robie and his wife, Shelly, moved to the Magnolia area over 30 years ago. They had nine years to nail down the challenges of mountain life before welcoming children Izzy and Aidan, now in their 20s.

Glancing at grassy knoll on his property, Robie recalls the two kids huddled there in sleeping bags on a frigid November night years ago marveling at the streaks and showers of light from the Leonid meteor shower. “Both of our kids definitely see why Shelly and I made the choice to come up here. This is where the heart is.”

Since humans first roamed the Peak to Peak area, that sentiment has been shared. Many people have fallen in love with this neck of the woods, raising their kids among towering Ponderosa pines and bugling elk. According to the Museum of Boulder, the Ute Tribe, Colorado’s oldest residents, thrived here because of their respect for and connection to the land. And for Ute children, with the forest as their playground, they could always find something to do. Orrin Lewis, a Cherokee Native American cultures historian says in the little free time Ute children had between chores, play was mostly an imitation of how their elders spent their days. Taking care of corn husk dolls and playing a hoop game where players tossed a long dart through a rolling hoop — a child’s first lesson in hunting.

Anne Heart, owner of Mother Mountain, a Healing Arts Apothecary, says her two children love helping out with the “real work” the family does at their Pine Glade property. Chopping firewood, collecting chicken eggs, and gardening, though they, like the Ute children, find time for nature play. The family spent one recent weekend designing and building a leanto made of branches that would keep the snow out.

Heart grows the plants she uses in her teas, spice blends, and body products and says in her experience, to grow here requires a little more fortitude. She sees those same characteristics in her children. “Nothing survives up here unless it’s hardy. We’ve had many lessons connected to cause and effect. Raising chickens and growing food, all while shoveling snow and chopping through ice.”

When the family moved here five years ago, Heart wondered where she’d find her community, especially as a young mother living remotely. But she soon discovered seven young families within walking distance of her house and says she’s never felt lonely or isolated. “There’s this tribal instinct. Up here, there are fewer people in a rugged environment, and I think because of that we lean into each other a little more.”

Today’s residents are attracted to Peak to Peak’s beauty, peace, and right-out-your-front-door nature, but in the mid-1860s, it was all about the gold. Money-hungry families rushed to the Nederland area, and the journey and lifestyle required more than a little fortitude. In a post on their website, Boulder County Open Space describes the first trips from Boulder to Nederland via present-day 119. In wagons clanking and clattering with worldly possessions, miners and their families relied on literal horsepower to get them up the mountain using a road that crossed the creek thirty-three times and was only wide enough for one wagon.

As more families made the Nederland area home, the need for a school became apparent, and according to the Carnegie Library for Local History, the first schoolhouse was built in 1872. As Nederland states in a post about its own history, the town would see ups and downs and fluctuations in its year-round population, but there were always families here. Kids climbing moss-marked boulders and waiting patiently as their fishing lines bobbed in the water. A place like this, a refuge from the hustle and bustle, where on any night it’s quiet enough to hear the snowflakes kiss the ground, this is where kids grow and thrive, where kids belong.

Parenting and family lifestyles have changed drastically since people first roamed the Peak to Peak area, but what remains the same is a desire to raise children in a place that values nature and the pursuit of a more connected earth.

Raising kids up here at 8200+ feet is a unique job. Peak Parenting is a new column that will highlight, explore, dissect, and celebrate everything local parents are talking about.

What would you like to see covered? Email us at publisher1977@gmail.com.

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